BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Hilltopper Basketball announced its preliminary 2014-15 schedule Wednesday, featuring eight games against teams that played in 2013-14 postseason and an 18-game Conference USA schedule in its first season in the league. WKU is contracted to participate in the 2014 NIT Season Tip-Off, and those games will be announced at a later date.
Highlights include a home game at E.A. Diddle Arena against in-state foe Louisville (Dec. 20) for the first time since 2010, the beginning of a four-year series with Belmont (Nov. 22) at E.A. Diddle Arena and a total of seven games against teams that won at least 20 games a season ago.
In its first season as a member of Conference USA WKU will play 18 league games, nine at home and nine on the road, including home-and-home series with Marshall, Charlotte, Old Dominion, Florida Atlantic and FIU. The Hilltoppers will host UTEP, UTSA, North Texas and Rice and travel to LA Tech, Southern Miss, UAB and Middle Tennessee for single games.
Season ticket renewals will be mailed within the next week. Fans interested in purchasing season tickets can call the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally. With the anticipation of a sellout against Louisville, all season ticket holders are encouraged to order additional tickets for that game on their renewal form. Season ticket pricing will remain the same as last season, ranging from $99 to $299. If tickets remain, there will be a three-game mini plan offered in September that includes a ticket to the Belmont, Chicago State and Louisville games for $75.
WKU opens the season at home on Friday, Nov. 14 against Austin Peay. On Saturday, Nov. 22, WKU hosts Belmont in the start of a four-game series between the two schools located less than 70 miles apart. The schools have met just six times in history, with WKU holding a 4-2 advantage, and the last meeting came in 1999-2000. Belmont went 26-10 a season ago, won the Ohio Valley Conference and played in the NIT. The Hilltoppers will face Bowling Green State for the fourth time in the last five seasons on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at E.A. Diddle Arena.
WKU hits the road on Saturday, Dec. 6 to face Murray State for the 151st time and then travels to Ole Miss on Saturday, Dec. 13 to return a game that was hotly-contested in Bowling Green last season. Murray State finished the 2013-14 season with a 23-11 record and won the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, and Ole Miss went 19-14.
Chicago State comes to WKU on Wednesday, Dec. 17, and Louisville visits on Saturday, Dec. 20 to mark the seventh-straight season the in-state foes have squared off. WKU leads the all-time series 39-38, but Louisville has won four-straight including last season’s 78-55 triumph in Nashville, Tenn., when the Cardinals were ranked fifth in the nation. The Hilltoppers hold a 16-9 advantage in games contested in Bowling Green, with the last one coming in December 2010.
The non-conference portion of the schedule closes with a pair of home games against Brescia (Ky.) (Dec. 27) and Alice Lloyd (Ky.) College (Dec. 29).
The Hilltoppers start their tenure in Conference USA with three-straight home games against Marshall (Jan. 4), Charlotte (Jan. 8) and Old Dominion (Jan. 10). Road contests at Florida Atlantic (Jan. 15) and FIU (Jan. 17) follow, before the Hilltoppers welcome UTEP (Jan. 22) and UTSA (Jan. 24) for the first times ever. WKU has only played UTEP once, which came in December 1969 in the Jayhawk Classic in Lawrence, Kan. The Hilltoppers and UTSA have never played.
The following week, WKU heads to LA Tech (Jan. 29) and Southern Miss (Jan. 31), before hosting North Texas (Feb. 5) and Rice (Feb. 7) as the calendar turns to February.
WKU plays five of its final seven games on the road, including contests at Marshall (Feb. 14), UAB (Feb. 19) and Middle Tennessee (Feb. 21). Despite not playing last season, the game between WKU and Middle Tennessee will be the 130th in the series dating back to 1914-15.
The final two home games of the season come against Florida Atlantic (Feb. 26) and FIU (Feb. 28). The Hilltoppers end the 2014-15 regular season at Charlotte (March 5) and Old Dominion (March 7).
The Conference USA Tournament will be held March 11-14 in Birmingham, Ala.
WKU plays an exhibition game against Pikeville (Ky.) on Nov. 10.
All dates are subject to change based on television selections.
WKU ended the 2013-14 season with a 20-12 record and finished in second place in the Sun Belt Conference. A 20-win season in 2014-15 would mark the first instance of three-straight 20-win seasons for the Hilltoppers since 2008-10.
For more information on WKU Hilltopper Basketball, visit WKUSports.com or follow the program via social media @WKUBasketball on Twitter and on Facebook at facebook.com/WKUBasketball.